Residents of Igbemo and Orun communities in Irepodun /Ifelodun Local Government Area of Ekiti State have called on the state government to relocate its proposed cargo airport project to forest reserve, instead of using the project to destroy their cash crop plantations.
They alleged that government had destroyed their cash crops in their farms; a development they said was in consonance with the proposed project.
The residents on Wednesday protested against the actualisation of the proposed cargo airport project in their communities.
They noted that Igbemo Ekiti has been known to be an agricultural hub for the production of local rice, called “Igbemo rice”, in large quantities.
The residents, majority of who are rice, cocoa, cassava farmers claimed they never signed a pact with the state government to convert their plantations which they have been suffering for years into a cargo airport.
Explaining what informed the protest, the protesters- youths and aged in the two communities, alleged they saw some strange people in their farms in the night destroying their crops and digging holes.
One of the protesters, Mr Ojo Awe-Merry, who claimed his cocoa farm was affected, hinted that they had held several meetings with their monarchs and other stakeholders but fell on deaf ears.
Expressing fear, they noted that Igbemo-Ekiti, which has been known as home of Rice and Cocoa production, in Ekiti and Nigeria today might eventually end up having nothing.
Lady Evang. Adebola Daramola, another protester, expressed her feelings, said : “We don’t have any other land to plant cocoa and rice should the government convert our farms to cargo airport.
”We don’t have any other occupation than farming since we couldn’t secure white collar jobs.”
The residents explained in strong terms that they were not against the development of their communities but against the destruction of their farms, which is their agricultural value and source of livelihood.
They, therefore, appealed to the state government to move the proposed project to forest reserve.
Responding, the State Commissioner for Information and Values Orientation, Hon Akin Omole said “no body intends to destroy their cash crops.”